DiscoverVerse: Wade Kearley + Narrow Cradle

April 22, 2020

Today we chat with Wade Kearley about his third poetry collection Narrow Cradle (Breakwater Books), a mid-life reckoning with mortality that through poetic form strives for freedom and personal rebirth. Below, Kearley shares more about learning his love for family, the planet and traditional forms of poetry through the writing of this collection and takes us on a Jules Verne-esque journey in his own Choose Your Own Adventure story.

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During the month of April, you can buy any of our featured  DiscoverVerse books for 20% off (+ we'll send you a set of three poetry bookmarks so you'll always find your place.)

 

 

 

Interview with Wade Kearley

 

 

All Lit Up: What did you learn writing Narrow Cradle?

Wade Kearley: Narrow Cradle is my third book of poetry in a series I am writing on the elements. The first was on water and concerned how in youth and early adulthood we learn to adapt to the life in which we find ourselves. The second on fire dealt mainly with raw emotional conflicts in our thirties and forties and early mid-life as we attempt to come to terms with the limitations and setbacks we all encounter as we juggle careers and life choices. This latest book embraces Earth as its sustaining metaphor for the grounding of our middle years—this narrow cradle in the midst of the infinite cosmos that nurtures and destroys us.

I learned many things about myself and my craft throughout this process, I’ll mention four things at or near the top of the list.

First of all, as I explored the infinite ways in which we are connected to Earth, I learned how much I love this planet and all life on it--and how we must care for all of it as we would for a loved one.

Second I learned how deeply I am moved by my family and friends. Even though this is a work of fiction, their words, their impressions of life on earth, in some cases their entire lives, imbue this work with meaning and relevance that I could never achieve on my own. Their presence in my life lifts the words off the page. 

The third thing I learned is how valuable traditional forms of poetry can be to learn about ourselves and the connection between form and meaning. Take the sonnet for example; it is an ideal tool in which a writer can explore two conflicting emotions. As a corollary of this, I learned that language and writing are not the same thing. Words on the page are a code that is related to the spoken word, in the same way that thoughts are, but neither writing nor thoughts are language. And it is the joyful, frustrating, amazing struggle to master this code, to represent and to organize thought on the page and to approximate the gift of speech, which is at the heart of my passion for poetry. Inherited forms are a great starting point for this adventure

And finally, although it took me about 15 years to complete this work, much of it was written in the past three years—a period during which I read a great deal more poetry by other poets, primarily American, some Canadian, Irish and Chinese in translation. So the lesson is read, read, read.

 

ALU: If you were a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure story, what kind of quest would you be on? What three things would you have with you on your journey?

WK: My idea of a great adventure is inspired by Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days.” I would like to set out to circle the globe in 80 days during which I would visit as many of the refugee camps as possible around the world. AS art of the trip I would travel in the most common mode of transport available in the region while I meet and learn about the daily life of people who live, work and struggle in those areas.

With me I would take the following:

  • First: enough medicine to be able to help people in every region I visited;
  • Second: recording technology--including writing material, a tape recorder and a phone/camera--and
  • Third: a contract to write stories for influential blogs and traditional media so that I might be able in some way to help tear down the walls—real, social and economic--that confine and condemn any and all of us unfortunate enough to find ourselves in such an appalling situation.

 

ALU: Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry?

WK: I am inspired by people and by nature. More specifically, all my poetry is about the struggle to understand and grow from our relationships with people and with the natural world—good relationships, bad ones, even imagined ones.

 

ALU: Help us with a poetry prompt for our readers. Can you come up with a writing prompt for our readers to write their own poetry?

WK: Write a villanelle (see my grid below) in which you imagine Mary Walsh’s Princess Warrior—instead of Arjuna—in the chariot with Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. In this scene they have halted the horses on the great plain between the two fighting forces. There Marg delivers a monologue on her view of the merits of ascetic life of meditation and prayer compared with the merits of a life of devotional service as preferred by the blue guy.

 

 

 

Stanza number

Rhyme

Scheme

Text

NOTE: But should deal with devotional love. Five stanzas of three lines with a concluding stanza of four lines with a specific repetitive pattern for specific lines (see below)

# of syllables

any # and any metre okay but pentameter is standard

 

1

A1a

Helpful to use complete sentence instead of a phrase.

 

 

B

May be either a phrase or complete sentence.

 

 

A1c

Helpful to use complete sentence instead of a phrase.

 

 

 

 

2

A

 

 

 

B

 

 

 

A1a

Repeat Stanza 1 line A1a or close variation keeping end word

 

 

 

 

3

A

 

 

 

B

 

 

 

A1c

Repeat Stanza 1 line A1c or close variation keeping end word

 

 

 

 

4

A

 

 

 

B

 

 

 

A1a

Repeat Stanza 1 line A1a or close variation keeping end word

 

 

 

 

5

A

 

 

 

B

 

 

 

A1c

Repeat Stanza 1 line A1c or close variation keeping end word

 

 

 

 

6

A

 

 

 

B

 

 

 

A1a

Repeat Stanza 1 line A1a or close variation keeping end word

 

 

A1c

Repeat Stanza 1 line A1c or close variation keeping end word

 

 

 

 

 

 

A poem from  Narrow Cradle

 

March on Lawlor’s Brook

 

Their new buds sticky in the freeze and thaw,

Spruce, balsam fir, beech, oak, chestnut and cherry,

—roots freed from cold plastic nurseries—

Ten springs growing, reawaken to draw

Winter’s thinning blood into greening shoots.

I planted them on the south bank of the brook

To one day shade the pools for trout and hook,

Where two children splash and a duck objects.

I dread the approaching fall of my decay,

Yet marvel at that fear when a satellite

Traces across the dusk a thin pathway

And then vanishes into spectral night.

Grandchildren’s children may forget grandpop,

But I pray wading shadows never stop.

 

 

 

 

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Wade Kearley

Wade Kearley is the author of seven books, including the poetry collections Drawing on Water and Let Me Burn like This, and the travel books The People’s Road and The People’s Road Revisited, based on his 900-kilometer trek along Newfoundland’s abandoned rail line. He lives in St. John’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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During the month of April, you can buy Narrow Cradle and any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off! PLUS: FREE shipping!

Keep up with us all month on   Twitter,   Instagram, and   Facebook with the hashtag #ALUdiscoververse.

 

BONUS:

Play our Choose Your Own Poetry game where YOU are the narrator! Choose from multiple paths on the way to one ultimate goal: visiting your local bookstore to browse poetry. As you move through the story you will find poetry books to collect in your tote bag. There are a total of 36 poetry books to discover across the various paths with 12 possible endings. Which poetry collections will you find on your path?

Playing time: 1-2 minutes per path. To play, click the link below to start the download. 

DiscoverVerse: Choose Your Own Poetry Game

 

 

 


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